26 Feb 2016 - Frederic Hessman
We’re in the process of re-installing the science camera on MONET/South. Still lots to do, but the telescope and camera
are working fine.
Here’s the “2nd Light” image of the tarantula nebula (Halpha filter), taken with no focus check and un-aligned optics.
This shows how nice it is to have a 12’ x 12’ field-of-view!
23 Dec 2015 - Frederic Hessman
Yes, it’s been a long haul, but there is progress!
MONET/South is currently being commissioned using the SBIG test camera. We will re-install the science camera
(which had a vacuum failure and had to be shipped back to the manufacturers) in February 2016. Hopefully by then,
we will be able to start normal observations in South Africa.
The roof controller for MONET/North failed - one of the most critical components in a robotic telescope system.
We’re taking this as a good excuse to replace the old controllers with Raspberry Pi’s (cheaper, simpler to programm
and configure, but with all of the control possibilities of the old ones) and expect to be back up again early 2016.
07 Aug 2015 - Frederic Hessman
The MONET/South telescope is being comissioned with the SBIG test camera and has already produced its first scientific
results. An example of one of the test images - here of the globular cluster M5 - is shown below. Early next year,
the science camera will return from its maintenance trip to its manufacturers in Tucson, Arizona and we’ll have a much
better camera with a wider field.
Currently, MONET/South is down only because the UPS (un-interruptable power supply) for the computers needs new
batteries and the current power-outtages throughout South Africa (due to insufficient capacity) make it difficult to
get a short-term replacement. Soon…..!
16 Jul 2015 - Frederic Hessman
North: still waiting for the replacement of UPS batteries zapped by a lightning strike the end of May.
Should be any day now…..! Jul 24 : batteries installed, waiting for final OK.
South: the new science camera has developed a vacuum leak which requires sending the camera back to the
manufacturers in Tucson/AZ/USA. :-(( This means re-installing the science camera sometime at the beginning of 2016.
In the meanwhile, we’ll try to operate with the test camera (the same one used by MONET/North for many months now).
At the end of July, I’m going to Sutherland to switch cameras. The hope is that by the beginning of October, we’ll
have a fully working system, albeit with the test camera.
14 Apr 2015 - Frederic Hessman
Thanks to the efforts of the McDonald technical and observational support staff, MONET/North is nearly ready to resume
operations. In addition to replacing the damaged cables and hardware, Terry Wilemon (McD) came up with an additional
mechanism for preventing the derotator at the Nasmyth axis from ever again going beyond its allow range.
As soon as the new hardware can be tested, we hope to resume operations.
Many thanks to Terry and the rest of the McDonald staff for all of their efforts!